Comorbidities of Hearing Loss
Most people with hearing loss are able to live happily with their situation and not let it affect their lives. Hearing aid technology has come a long way in recent decades, and these devices can allow those with hearing loss to participate in conversations, watch television and listen to music without difficulty. Many models are incredibly discreet and are barely perceptible to the human eye from a distance and some even come with state-of-the-art functionality like wireless connectivity and Bluetooth.
If hearing loss is identified early on, it can usually be prevented from worsening. But several studies in recent years have shown that people who have hearing loss are often more likely to have associated medical conditions or disorders. Health issues like heart disease and cognitive disorders have been linked with hearing loss, and these linkages are often referred to as comorbidities. In some cases, these comorbidities might be caused or worsened by hearing loss, while in others the hearing loss may be the effect of other health conditions.
For this reason, although your hearing loss may not have a negative impact on your life, it’s essential you get a regular checkup from a hearing instrument specialist (HIS).
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, killing upwards of 600,000 people every year. Heart, or cardiovascular, disease is an umbrella term denoting a variety of medical issues affecting the structure of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. This usually consists of blockages or narrowed vessels that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Those with heart disease will often have issues with circulation, which can subsequently cause problems with one’s hearing. Impaired blood flow to the inner ear or trauma to blood vessels can contribute to hearing loss.
Although hearing loss can almost always be managed successfully, one in three adults with hearing loss does not seek treatment. Living with impaired hearing can make it difficult to meet new people, maintain existing relationships and advance in your career. Repeatedly struggling to hear other people can make you anxious or unwilling to enter social situations and many people with hearing loss withdraw and isolate themselves as a result.
Depression is a common symptom for those with untreated hearing loss. When you're young and healthy, you often take your hearing for granted. But when it is suddenly out of your grasp it can hit you hard. You are suddenly unable to fully appreciate the beautiful sounds you once enjoyed like music, birdsong or the voices and laughter of your loved ones. Additionally, straining to hear conversations can make you feel constantly stressed and anxious, which can lead to further mental health problems.
Diabetes is a disease caused by high blood sugar levels, which in turn can damage blood vessels throughout the entire body, including your ears. If you keep your diabetes under control and regularly see a doctor, then there may be minimal risk, but in some cases, the condition could lead to hearing loss.
We use our senses all the time and they are constantly protecting us from danger without us even realizing it. You can see if a car is approaching, you can smell a gas leak, you feel pain and you can taste gone-off food. And your hearing is just as important for self-preservation. Those with hearing loss are therefore more susceptible to accidents such as falls and vehicle collisions.
People with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to five times more likely to experience cognitive decline. This could take the form of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, which manifest themselves in memory loss, confusion and inability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The exact link between hearing loss and cognitive impairment is inconclusive, but there are several possible reasons for the connection. Some studies suggest that hearing loss causes parts of the brain responsible for auditory function to shrink or atrophy. Others, however, indicate that constantly straining to hear can cause brain overload, thereby depleting mental energy and brainpower required for cognitive functions like thinking, concentrating and remembering.
Get in touch
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of hearing loss and would like to learn more about the treatments available or the associated comorbidities, get in touch with Sound Choice Hearing for more information. Give us a call at 505-341-1300.